From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Episcopalians: Reconciliation in Canadian Diocese of New Westminster hits snag

Date Tue, 18 Feb 2003 12:55:13 -0500

February 18, 2003


Episcopalians: Reconciliation in Canadian Diocese of New 
Westminster hits snag

by James Solheim

(ENS) Attempts at reconciliation with parishes in the Diocese of 
New Westminster, in the Anglican Church of Canada, that oppose 
the decision last June opening the way to blessing of 
same-gender relationships has hit a serious snag.

According to Gordon Sloan, who has been facilitating the 
attempts at reconciliation, the eight parishes have told him 
they want to talk about separation, not reconciliation. While he 
is talking with both sides to see if there are ground for 
further discussion, Bishop Michael Ingham told the Diocesan 
Council at its February 11 meeting that "we at this moment have 
no plans to meet again. The position the diocesan 
representatives took was that we were sad to hear" that 
reconciliation would be difficult.

While the three sets of talks held so far have been cordial, 
according to Ingham, they have not moved beyond issues of 
process. "The position of the eight parishes in the 
conversations has been largely to restate the position that they 
have taken against homosexual relationships as unbiblical and 
immoral--and against synod and myself for presuming to bless 
what they believe God has condemned," he said in a diocesan news 

Ingham described a January meeting where the facilitator put on 
the wall a diagram of "a watershed. On one side of the watershed 
was conversations towards reconciliation, meaning finding a way 
of living together with difference--deep difference in 
conviction, finding a way to live together in mutual respect. 
And on the other side of the watershed was conversations about 

Before returning to the room with the diocesan representatives, 
Ingham said, "they sent a message to us via the facilitator 
indicating they were no longer interested in pursuing the path 
of reconciliation. While they felt the talks should continue, it 
would have to be down the other side of the watershed." 

The bishop said that he concluded that "they felt they could not 
continue that discussion with us unless we agreed essentially to 
reverse course on the synod decision." The diocese was not 
willing to do that, he said. On the other hand, he told the 
diocesan council that he had not decided when to release the 
rite for blessing unions, delaying "to give the process of 
reconciliation every possible chance."

The other side

In a February 14 news release, the eight parishes, organized as 
the Anglican Communion in New Westminster (ACiNW), challenged 
the diocesan interpretation of the reconciliation process. 

"While it is true that talks toward reconciliation per se have 
ended, the allegation that ACiNW refused to discuss anything but 
separation is entirely false," said the release from Ed Hird, 
executive of ACiNW. He said that he sent a memo to the diocese 
explaining that ACiNW "needed time to decide how it wanted to 
proceed and what issues it felt needed to be explored further."

In the statement, Hird said that "the ACiNW position has always 
been that simple reconciliation on terms set out by the bishop," 
terms that do not provide "substantive provisions for 
conservative parishes, is not feasible, realistic, or biblically 
defensible." He said that "this incident is a demonstration as 
to why the distrust between these parties is so deep and so 
difficult to bridge. The gulf between our parties is indeed 
painfully substantial--and the solution must be substantial as 

The statement concluded, "The ACiNW remains hopeful that a 
substantial solution can be reached that provides for the least 
amount of disruption and honours the needs of both parties to 
continue in ministry."


--James Solheim is director of Episcopal News Service.

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